I just read this terrific article in The Huffington Post by young adult author Chris Crutcher--"Young Adult Fiction: Let Teens Choose." He wrote something that I have often thought about and even posted on once. Unfortunately, that post offended people and out of self-preservation, I pulled it. What resonated so much with me is his comments on profanity in young adult literature:
Bad language doesn't hurt anybody. It might make a few -- mostly adults -- uneasy, but it doesn't hurt anybody. Words can hurt. Name calling hurts. Oral bullying hurts. Humiliation hurts. But bad language doesn't do shit.
YA author Catherine Ryan Hyde made a similar argument in a 2009 blog post--"$@%*!!!":
For those who would make the argument that words are powerful, and can hurt, I could not agree with you more. But, now, here's my question: Are you sure that those seven words are the hurtful ones? Are you sure there aren't far more powerful and far more damaging words that fall into the category of socially acceptable?
Check out her post for the four words she believes should never be used in polite company.
Two very powerful arguments. I encourage you to read them in their entirety.
I love this promo for Martin Wilson's interview on Stonewall Live. His book, What They Always Tell Us, like mine, falls into this rare genre. I'm in good company, don't you think?
With the ARC of Don’t Let Me Go out, I will soon be focusing my posts on the big ideas in the book. But I wanted to do one more post for my aspiring writer friends. I thought you might be interested in the timeline of my debut novel—from draft to ARC (because that’s where I am right now). So here goes. I hope it demystifies some of the process for you. I know I would have loved such a timeline when I was just getting started. Some of the dates may be fudged just a bit, but most are exact.
- June 31, 2009--Completed first draft of Don’t Let Me Go (not the original title).
- August 31, 2009--Completed first draft of a sequel to Don’t Let Me Go.
- October, 2009--Began querying.
- Late October, 2009--Received a request for a full from a top agent.
- December 1, 2009--Manuscript rejected with a nice note and some feedback that I used to rewrite.
- December 31, 2009--Yes, New Year’s Eve. I began to query again in batches of 15. Received quite a few requests for sample chapters, partials, and a couple of fulls.
- February 5, 2010--Offered representation by a new agent in a New York agency.
- February 16, 2010--Signed agency contract (which fortunately only required a 30-day notice to terminate.
- April 10, 2010--Gave 30 days notice to terminate said agreement. No forward movement whatsoever in the two months since I signed contract. Got a bad vibe.
- April 23, 2010--Sent out 7 queries on sequel. Decided this was the stronger of the two manuscripts. One query went to Stephen Fraser at The Jennifer De Chiara Agency in New York. Steve and several other agents and editors were featured in a Writer’s Digest article on "What it Takes to Make it in YA" (I think that was the title). I emailed Steve at 5:14 in the morning. He requested sample chapters at 7:20. At 10:15 I sent the chapters. At 11:06 he requested the full and made a couple of suggestions about pacing.
- April 26, 2010--Mailed the chapters after taking the weekend to address the pacing.
- May 20, 2010--Steve emailed and offered representation.
- May 24, 2010--Received the agency agreement and couldn’t sign it fast enough.
- November 1, 2010--After some outright rejections and at least one near miss, Steve called to tell me Kensington Books had made an offer. I, of course, accepted immediately.
- November 8, 2010--Editor called to discuss novel. Asked me to combine both manuscripts and gave me a January 1, deadline.
- January 1, 2011--Submitted the combined manuscripts.
- January 18, 2011--Editor requested an author bio, cover suggestions, and also asked that I complete an author’s questionnaire. Sometime shortly after he asked me to write discussion questions and put together a playlist.
- January 20, 2011--Submitted requested material.
- January 24, 2011--Received 9-page editorial note from editor. Gulp. Gave me an April 1 deadline.
- March 1, 2011--Editor emailed to ask if I knew any authors in my genre who might be willing to read my manuscript and offer an early blurb. We came up with a few names.
- March 14, 2011--Returned edited manuscript to Editor.
- March 28, 2011--Editor said they picked a cover photo the week before. I hadn’t seen it.
- May 24, 2011--Received hard copy of manuscript via FedEx. The manuscript had been marked by my editor in red, the copyeditor in green, and the typesetter in brown. I had two weeks to approve those marks and make any of my own. For two weeks I practically gave my editor a heart attack because there was so much that I felt still needed to be changed. Mostly cuts. I did only what I felt HAD to be done and tried to pretend everything else was perfect.
- June 7, 2011--Returned manuscript on time—FedEx overnight $100.00. Yikes.
- June 9, 2011--Editor sent cover art. Loved it!
- July 12, 2011--Noticed that book had shown up on online bookseller sites. My name was wrong. As of today, it hasn't been corrected despite my publisher's repeated efforts. Grrr.
- August 2, 2011--Received hard copy of galley pages from production editor. Given just over a week to make any final corrections. Pages were also being read by a copyeditor. Instructed to return only those pages with corrections. Um, that was 51. Hope nobody got too mad.
- August 12, 2011--Returned page proofs. UPS, two-day delivery, 51 pages plus a note: $30.
- August 19, 2011--Received an email from the publicist with the press release for my review and a request for additional media people who I believed should receive an ARC.
And that brings us to today! I’m eagerly awaiting my ARC, and keeping my fingers crossed that DLMG will be reviewed by lots of people. Oh, and during all that time, I wrote two new novels. In late July my agent struck a deal with Kensington on those two books as well. Very exciting.
Hope my timeline gives you a clearer idea of how the process works. If you have any questions, post them in a comment. I’d be happy to try to answer them.